Rattler Gym hosts teen's funeral
February 8, 2023
Coaches, family members and a classmate bared emotions, told stories and even shared a few laughs about a Tucumcari teenager during his funeral Saturday morning at Rattler Gymnasium.
Jayden Gloms, 15, died in a one-vehicle accident on Jan. 24 on a shooting range at Five Mile Park on Tucumcari's west side.
The Tucumcari Police Department, which is investigating, apparently had not finished its report on the accident. The Quay County Sun filed an open-records request for the report last week. A TPD administrative assistant stated it would need "additional time to respond, until Feb. 8." The report is due be forwarded to the district attorney's office for possible criminal charges.
Former TPD chief Pete Rivera said last week the accident involved four juveniles. Tucumcari Public Schools administrators and coaches previously confirmed it involved several members of the boys basketball team.
The lobby of Rattler Gymnasium on Saturday contained dozens of photos of Jayden, along with flowers and guestbooks. Another table contained a message that stated that friends and family of the boy were creating a time capsule that will be opened during his class' 20th reunion in 2046. It invited attendees to write down memories of Jayden.
The funeral began with a procession by Jayden's extended family into the gymnasium. A song over the public-address system by contemporary Christian music artist TobyMac included the lyrics: "God has you in heaven, but I have you in my heart."
On the stage above Jayden's casket were images of the teen, plus football and basketball uniforms of his No. 3 and No. 22. In the center were flowers arranged in "2026," the year he would have graduated from THS.
A 10-minute video projected on a large screen showed Jayden photos, along with footage from the balloon-release event and candlelight vigil a few days after his death.
Anthony Griffith, interim pastor at First Baptist Church who presided at the funeral, noted the crowd of hundreds of mourners.
"This crowd speaks to how loved Jayden was," he said, "how much you love his family."
Jayden's father, Steven Gloms, was the last to speak during the service.
"It brings me joy to see everybody here," he said. "Thank you, Tucumcari. He loved to be a Rattler. I hope everybody keeps my son in their hearts."
Gloms said Jayden had bugged him to get his first tattoo. Gloms said he now would get one in honor of his son.
"I will try to be strong for him," Gloms said. After his remarks, he stepped down from the stage and briefly embraced his son's casket.
Jayden's aunt, Maria Chavez, also praised the large throng in Rattler Gymnasium.
"We can feel the love from the community in our darkness and confusion," she said.
She also praised the fast response from community members the evening of Jayden's accident.
"Thank you for standing by his side, when we couldn't, to the very end," Chavez said.
Several coaches recalled Jayden's infectious smile, his willingness to work hard in practice and his reputation as a prankster.
Adrian Jones, who was Jayden's football coach for three years in middle school and high school, said he developed an almost father-son bond.
"I just know he would have been great," Jones said. "I just know deep down ... that he was. I already miss him so much."
Matt Garcia, who coached Jayden in basketball and football, said Jayden showed up early for practices and left late. He said his smile "would turn your worst day to the best."
"I hope my boys grow up to be half the man Jayden was," he said.
George Montano, who was Jayden's coach in Little League, said he loved to make people laugh. Montano recalled the day he came home to find Jayden and his buddies holding a raucous pool party, with the teen, wearing only in his underwear, jumping off the roof of the house into the pool.
High school boys basketball coach John Span and the entire team walked onto the stage. Span described Jayden as "a hot mess, and I mean that in a good way. There was never a dull moment with him."
Span said he would give two basketballs autographed by the team to the boy's family.
Then, in tribute to Jayden, Span gathered the team into a huddle as if they were in a timeout during a game and simultaneously said, "1, 2, 3, break!" That moment elicited applause from the mourners.
Kamren Apodaca, a starter on the varsity basketball team and a fellow member of Jayden's freshman class, said he grew close to the boy and his family.
"I wish I could have him back," Kamren said. "He was like my brother. I love you, dude, and I always will."
Kamren recalled the time he, Jayden and other boys accidentally started a grass fire while messing around with a lighter and a can of Lysol.
"Jayden started peeing on it," he recalled, sparking laughter from the crowd. The boys scrambled to fill pots and pans with water to put out the fire. They finally noticed a water hose only about 10 feet from the blaze.
Many members of the boys basketball team rode on the back of a Jack's Towing flatbed truck with the casket on the way to Tucumcari Memorial Park cemetery for the burial. Many players and other mourners wore T-shirts that paid tribute to Jayden and his half-sister, Anastacia, who died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.
The Tucumcari Convention Center hosted a reception for the family after the funeral.